It’s that month of the year when we put up Christmas lights and start thinking about a Christmas tree! If you’d like to go out into the forest and find your perfect live Christmas tree, you’ll need to get a permit first.

Some people believe that killing a live tree is not environmentally-friendly, however it’s the opposite. Fake or artificial Christmas trees are not biodegradable, so they’re going to stay in the landfill not decompose. Live Christmas trees are a renewable and biodegradable natural resource and there are a number of environmentally-friendly ways to dispose of them after the holidays.

One such disposal option is “Fernie on Fire”, a fundraiser for local charities where Christmas trees are burned. Christmas trees are collected on a specific date by the Fernie Fire Department and burned beside the Aquatic Centre with entertainment, food, drinks, great prizes and a BIG fire! If you miss the big fire, old Christmas trees can be used to improve soil, create paths or even stabilize riparian zones.

The Use Permit for a Christmas Tree is FREE and it’s downloadable here: rocky_mountain_christmas_tree_permit

You must print the permit and carry it with you to legally cut down a Christmas Tree.

In Fernie we are surrounded by private land and the permit is only for Crown Land. Be sure of where you are cutting, private land owners tend to not support having their trees cut. Crown Land is to the North and West of town, basically the Three Sisters and Lizard Range side of the Valley, excluding Island Lake Lodge in Cedar Valley.

The permit is free, however there are a few rules to follow:

• Read and understand the conditions of the permit prior to signing.

• Carry the permit at all times.

• Produce the permit at the request of a natural resource officer, conservation officer or peace officer.

• You cannot cut a Christmas tree from, private lands, plantations, research areas, parks, areas adjacent to rivers, streams, lakes or swamps, juvenile-spaced areas and any other areas reserved for a special use.

• Check online maps provided by districts to ensure you are cutting within a designated area.

• It’s illegal to sell a tree cut under a Christmas tree permit or to cut a tree in an unauthorized area.

Alternatively, there are more than 450 Christmas tree growers in B.C. that offer U-cuts or buy a live tree at local retail.

CHRISTMAS TREE CUTTING TIPS TO FOLLOW

• Leave home prepared. Bring ropes, gloves, tools, tire chains, a first-aid kit, a mobile phone and warm clothing.

• Drive carefully. Be prepared for logging trucks and bad roads. .

• Make sure you have found the tree you will use before cutting.

• Do not leave a pointed stump as this may cause injury to livestock, wildlife, pets or other people.

• Choose a tree that can be cut near the base and is easy to transport. Wasted tree remains left in the forest can form a summer fire hazard.

• Clean up and remove all debris associated with your activity.

Merry Christmas and enjoy your live Christmas tree!

Photos from Facebook.

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